Drug Addiction Statistics

When a family member or close friend suffers from the disease of addiction, it can be difficult to see the overall effects of the abuse and addiction on the entire family or social circle.

In some circumstances, we find excuses and patterns of behavior to justify certain activities, even going so far as to live under a delusional cloud.

We don’t believe that the worst will happen to us or to our family member.  The fact of the matter is that the statistics are clear when it comes to drug abuse and addiction.  If a member of our family is suffering from addiction, the worst can happen to them and getting treatment is incredibly important in order to beat the odds.

Hospital Emergency Room Visits

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services keep track of drug-related emergency room visits each year.  In 2009, there were over 4.5 million visits related to drug use. Half of these visits were related to non-abuse events, such as allergic reactions. The other half, an estimated 2.1 million visits, related directly to the abuse of drugs.  Over 27 percent of the visits involved the using drugs in a nonmedical manner (taking prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs for a purpose other than intended), 21.2% of the patients had abused illicit drugs (such as heroin or cocaine) and 14.3% combined alcohol with the drugs taken.

Other figures of note in 2009 include:
  • A 98.4 percent increase in the number of visits involving the nonmedical use of prescription drugs – such as Xanax, Vicodin and OxyContin – over a five-year period.
  • 3.7 million individuals over the age of 21 years were seen in emergency departments for drug related issues; approximately 1.85 million of these individuals had abused the drugs for which they were being treated.
  • 877,802 individuals aged 20 years or younger were treated in the ER for drug-related complications, and approximately 438,000 of these teenagers had abused drugs

Drug Abuse Among Teens

Every year since 1975, the Monitoring the Future Survey looks at the trends for drug abuse among our nation’s teens.  The survey is conducted among 8th graders, 10th graders and high school seniors, and asks them about drug use and abuse over the course of their lifetime, as well as the 12 months and one month immediately preceding the survey.  Most recently, they discovered that cigarette smoking has shown marked improvement in all grade levels.

Unfortunately, the survey does not have all good news for 2011.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are two distinct areas of concern for our nation’s youth.  The first concerns marijuana use and a close second, prescription drug abuse.

According to the study, while marijuana use showed declines in previous years, more recently the numbers have increased.  For instance:

  • 12.5 percent of 8th graders indicated they abused marijuana in the year prior to the survey
  • 18.8 percent of 10th graders indicated they abused marijuana in the year prior to the survey
  • 36.4 percent of high school senior indicated marijuana abuse in the year prior to the survey
  • All grades indicated that students today do not consider marijuana use as having harmful effects
  • More than 10 percent of school-aged youth have used “spice” (synthetic marijuana) in the year prior to the survey

After marijuana abuse, the concern rests on prescription and over-the-counter medication abuse.  Specifically, the abuse of OxyContin, a highly addictive form of hydrocodone, is unchanged from the previous five years.  Approximately 8.2 percent of high school seniors have admitted to abusing stimulants in the year prior to the survey.  As recently as 2009, this number was only 6.6 percent.

Interventions Can Help Addicts

There are many clichés that society often calls upon when dealing with an individual suffering from addiction.  An addiction disease can sometimes cause family and friends to throw their hands in the air, crying, “They have to hit rock bottom before they will get help.”  But what is rock bottom?  For many addicts, rock bottom is the point at which they choose to get help. Something happens in their life that makes them want to get better so they will seek treatment for their disease. An intervention can be that “something that happens.”

Statistically, interventions for those who have been incarcerated have proven successful in several areas.  Those addicts who did not choose to go to rehab but were encouraged or even forced to as a part of their sentence have shown:

  • Fewer instances of relapse
  • Less mental illness
  • Increased ability to function normally in society
  • Improved overall health and well-being
  • Improved relationships

These individuals may not have wanted to participate in a recovery program, and might not have had circumstances been different.  Ultimately, however, if the individual chooses to enter a treatment center because they are shown the benefits, no matter how they come to the final conclusion, they have a much greater chance to avoid relapse and improve their life.